Hervey Bay and Fraser Island

Trip Start Sep 27, 2009
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Where I stayed
Colonial Village YHA
Fraser Island camp grounds

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Saturday, November 13, 2010

We arrived at Hervey Bay at lunchtime and started looking around for a trip to Fraser Island. Hervey Bay is a coastal town famous for whale watching and trips to Fraser Island. The town was nice enough which a 10km beach backed by the esplanade which was full of shops, restaurants, bars and tour agents.

After going to loads of different tour agents and ringing around everywhere we eventually decided on a Fraser Island tour with Unique Fraser, we booked a 3 day 2 night trip for $330 each which included everything. The trip wasn't leaving until a couple of days so we got 2 nights free accommodation in Hervey Bay.

We checked into the hostel which was brilliant, they had a sites for camper vans as well as a hostel so we parked up there. The place had a great swimming pool, cheap bar, free breakfast, free table tennis, basketball courts and tennis courts it had everything! We settled there for the afternoon and went for a swim and played a game of tennis! The next day we went into Hervey Bay and chilled on the beach for most of the day, then spent the afternoon at the hostel and had another game of tennis with a few beers and met our Fraser Island group.

The next day we went to Fraser Island!! Fraser Island is a World Heritage sand island. The island is the biggest sand island in the world and the Aboriginal name for it is Kgari which means 'paradise'. The island is 85km long and full of rainforest, sand dunes, fresh water lakes and beaches. All roads are sand tracks so you have to come in a 4WD.

We went to the island with Unique Fraser, there were 9 of us, an English couple, two German girls, two Danish girls, a French girl then our Aussie guide Chris. We were really lucky to have such a great group, everyone was lovely and Chris the guide was absolutely brilliant. Our tour was called a 'tag along tour' as Chris the guide drove a 4WD in front of us, leading the way and we were all in our own 4WD and followed him. Out of the 9 of us only 5 could drive so we just took it in turns.

After watching a couple of videos on the safety and rules of the roads on the island Chris was the first to drive our 4WD which was completely different to the camper van!! We drove to the ferry port and got the ferry over to the island. It took about 40 minutes to get over to the island and for once the the weather was perfect with gorgeous sunshine. As Chris was the first to drive he drove along the inland tracks to our first stop on the island, Lake Birrabeen. The inland tracks were great fun to drive along, the were really bumpy and all sand which made it a difficult at times but the 4WD is so powerful it was great fun.

Lake Birrabeen is one of the many fresh water lakes on the island and it was absolutely beautiful. The sand was so white and fine and the water was a beautiful turquoise colour and crystal clear, it was just amazing. The sea around Fraser island is not suitable for swimming as the currents are so strong and the sea is infested with sharks, but with lakes like this you really don't miss the sea.

After spending a few hours at the lake and after lunch Em took up the drivers seat. We had another fun drive through the inland tracks as we drove to Central Station. From central station we went on a short walk thorough the rain forest. When we first heard of Fraser island being entirely made of sand, we didn't expect the island to be total covered in rainforest, its one of the only places in the world were the rainforest grows in the sand. The walk was great as the rainforest was really dense and had a crystal clear stream running through the middle.

After the walk we headed to the campsite for the night. we all had tents so after setting everything up Chris cooked us a fantastic BBQ dinner, with sausages, burgers and a huge salad, it was a cracking meal. Most of us had brought beers and goon, so for the rest of the night we sat around the camp table drinking our beers and chatting. There was some huge spiders in the camp and the sounds of the birds echoing around the forest was really cool.

The next morning after a huge breakfast of bacon, eggs, cereal and pancakes, we jumped back in the 4WD and headed to the Lake Wabby. There was a short walk through the forest which then led out to some huge sand dunes which felt like we were in a desert. The sand dunes sloped down to reveal the lake. The lake was surrounded by forest with the sand dunes on one side, the lake was green in colour but still crystal clear, there were loads of catfish swimming in the lake. It was a beautiful lake and really unique. We spent some time on the sand just relaxing and swimming in the lake.

After Lake Wabby we took the 4WD on the beach for the first time, the Eastern coast on Fraser island is a registered highway with speed limits and everything! It was great to drive on the beach, the waves are huge on the coast line and you get great views. We next stopped at Eli Creek which is a fresh water creek that leads out to the beach, the water was freezing cold. It was really beautiful there but it was really crowded, so Chris said he would bring us back in the morning.

After Eli Creek we drove 20km up the beach to Champagne falls which is a group of rock pools in the sea, its the only place on the island where its safe to swim in the sea. The rock pools were great as when the huge waves crashed against the rocks the water fizzes and bubbles, giving it the name Champagne falls. We had a swim in the pools for a while and watched the waves coming in they were really powerful and every now and then would totally cover the rock pools.

The next and last stop for the day was Indian head which was a cliff top view point with stunning views of the beaches and the surrounding ocean. From the top of the cliff we could see turtles coming upto the surface for a breath. We also saw a shark and a manta ray swimming under the surface, it was a fantastic view.

We had a scary drive back as the tide was coming in on the beach so we had to drive up on the soft sand which was rather challenging! We headed to camp for that night and set up our tents. That night it was what Chris called feast night!! We had some fantastic steak and chips, the steak was so good Chris ended up eating three! After dinner we polished off the goon and toasted some marshmallows on the camp fire.

The next morning we had another cracking breakfast, Chris had eaten so much bacon he had the meat sweats, it had been over a year since we had eaten bacon so we were both making the most of it! That morning our camera totally busted, it had never been quite right since it got dropped in Vietnam so we were surprised it had lasted so long, so the pics of the last day don't look quite right! 

Anyway, that morning we first headed to the Pinnacles which is some coloured sand cliffs on the coast. Next was the wreck of the Maheno, which was a passenger liner washed a shore by a cyclone in 1935. The ship was built in Scotland and used to carry people from Australia to Tasmania, Since the the ARAF used the ship and a bombing target when training. The wreck was really cool as it was just on the beach, you could almost walk inside ship as the beach is almost taking over the deck.

After the Maheno wreck, we went back to Eli Creek which was now deserted, it was great and we all floated down on the creek down to the beach. Chris the guide was great at timing when we visited each site as Fraser Island is such a popular tourist spot but he took us to all the sites when it was basically just us lot there which was brilliant.

Our last stop on the island, the most famous site on the island Lake MacKenzie. Lake MacKenzie is another fresh water lake, similar to Lake Birrabeen. The sand was so white and the water was just crystal clear, it was stunning. We all went for a swim and spent the rest of the afternoon there relaxing before heading back to catch the ferry.

When we got back we all went for a couple of beers at the hostel and toasted to what a great time we had. Fraser island is absolutely beautiful and we had such a great time. We were really lucky with what a great group we had, Chris our guide was absolutely superb and the weather was perfect too! It was so much fun driving the 4WD around the island and the sites on the island were just fantastic, especially the lakes. Fraser Island is our favourite place in Australia so far, the aboriginals have it spot on when they named this island 'paradise'. 
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